Plant ID day at Sherwood Park
Stewardship on Public Land

Become a Lead Steward

Toronto citizens have a long history of protecting and restoring our ravines. However, most stewardship activities require supervision by City of Toronto staff under the City of Toronto ravine by-laws.

Toronto Nature Stewards aims to take stewardship further – our agreement with City of Toronto, Urban Forestry allows for more ravine stewardship without direct supervision by City of Toronto staff. Instead, volunteer Stewards work under the direction of trained Lead Stewards. This way, we harness the power of hundreds of volunteers across Toronto.

Registration Requests for 2023 Lead Steward training are now open

If you are interested in becoming a Lead Steward, please fill in our Training Request Form. Due to limited capacity for training preference is given to those who have some experience as a steward anywhere or have a strong interest in leading a group in an underserved community.

All of our ravines and natural areas need stewardship so please consider becoming a Lead Steward next year. You can find maps and schedules of our current sites here. You may also want to volunteer as a steward with any of them to gain experience. They would love to have you join them.

There is an excellent article from one of our 2022 first year Lead Stewards that will give you an idea of what it is like as an experience and the skills that will help you succeed.

What are Lead Stewards responsible for?

Lead Stewards:

  • Participate in six 2-hour long online training sessions over the winter
  • Choose a site (or join an existing site) and make a stewardship plan
  • Recruit and lead a team of volunteer Stewards (maximum 10 Stewards per Lead Steward)
  • Coordinate and manage their stewardship site
  • Organize workdays by sending e-mails, planning activities, collecting forms, etc.
  • Conduct monitoring, record number of volunteer attendees, and report stewardship activities to City of Toronto staff
  • Commit about 4 hours/week (3 hours in the field + 1 hour administration) during the stewardship season

Lead Stewards have a lot of flexibility in how they run their stewardship sessions and recruit volunteer Stewards.

What makes a good Lead Steward?

  • Strong organizational skills
  • Knowledge of invasive and native plant identification or the commitment to learn this skill 
  • Familiarity with email and basic excel
  • Previous stewarding experience or equivalent experience is ideal, but not necessary

Why become a Lead Steward?

You will get a lot back from your role as a Lead Steward! Skills & knowledge you will gain include:

  • Identification of invasive and native plants
  • Confidence to lead a group of 2 – 10 volunteers
  • Experience building teamwork and collaboration skills
  • Further development of organizational skills
  • Important problem-solving skills
  • Friendships with a community of like-minded people
  • Opportunities for social connection
  • Outdoor fun and nature therapy

Stewardship helps build vibrant communities. Working together with friends and neighbours provides the benefit of knowing you’ve made a difference to the state of Toronto’s ravines and natural areas.

How are Lead Stewards trained?

Lead Stewards take a live online training course from January – March. Training occurs on one evening every two weeks for a total of six training sessions. Lead Stewards are trained on how to:

  • Choose a site
  • Lead a stewardship group
  • Plan stewardship activities
  • Steward safely and effectively
  • Use the best management practices for ecological restoration
  • Identify and manage invasive plants
  • Monitor and report at your site